Janie Samet, French fashion writer and critic, dies at 91 – WWD

French fashion writer and critic Janie Samet, who was the first to interview a young Yves Saint Laurent, has died at her Cannes home aged 91, her family have confirmed.

Born April 21, 1931 in Paris, Samet got her start in journalism as an intern for L’Echo d’Oran, a French daily newspaper in Oran, Algeria, then under French colonial rule.

She was sent to interview the winner of the first International Wool Secretariat (now the Woolmark Prize), also from Oran. The 18-year-old was called Yves Saint Laurent. After this first meeting, Samet will follow the designer’s career until his retirement in 2002, later describing himself as a “groupie” of the couturier.

Over the next five decades, Samet would witness the transformation of fashion, becoming “its eye and its memory”, said Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the LVMH group. “She was close to all those who, since the 1950s, by dint of audacity and imagination, have brought Parisian creation to all continents”, he continues, noting that Samet “loved the materials as much as the style. “, frequenting the parades of the big houses and young designers alike.

In 1957, she joined L’Aurore, a newspaper owned by French businessman Marcel Boussac, who was then the sponsor of the fashion house Christian Dior. Samet will remain there for 25 years, including a stint as a correspondent in London, and will become deputy editor.

Her arrival at Le Figaro as deputy editor-in-chief of the fashion section in 1979 coincided with the boom in ready-to-wear. Over the next 25 years, Samet became an industry benchmark whose words weighed on the entire industry, from designers to industry moguls.

Sidney Toledano, CEO of LVMH Fashion Group and President of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, called Samet “one of the greatest fashion journalists in the world”; an “outstanding professional, always very rigorous in everything she wrote” and someone who “knew perfectly well that couture had to be evaluated over several parades and, often, over several years”.

“I learned to read between the lines of his articles to understand his appreciation. She never yielded to the temptation of sensationalism. Janie transmitted this flame, this passion and this rigor to the younger generations in journalism but also in fashion, both to designers and executives,” he continued.

Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, hailed a “great fashion journalist [whose] vision and his writing, lively and alert, accompanied the evolution of fashion and marked their era.

If couture will remain his favorite field, Samet will support many designers who have emerged in ready-to-wear over the years, such as Chantal Thomass, Claude Montana, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and more recently, Mossi Traoré.

They awaited the next day’s column with bated breath and holding back their tears – joy or relief would depend on what Samet wrote, Thomass said, recalling how she and her contemporaries were “terrified” by this “generational” figure. sewing”.

A critic who cannot be cajoled or influenced, Samet maintains close relationships with many, such as Christian Lacroix, who met her in 1986 when he won the fashion “Dé d’Or” at Patou.

His disappearance was felt as “the departure of a relative, at the same time a little close but also a little distant, severe and adorable at the same time, typical of an era which suddenly took flight with the evolution of the press, fashion social media”. , large groups and their relationship with journalists, ”wrote the couturier in an email to WWD.

The word “journalist” corresponded best to Samet, continues Lacroix, remembering her with a notebook in her hand, “doodling what she gleaned in all circumstances, a show, a cocktail party or even a funeral, bringing you back to life. essential in a few words before saying”. “Thank you, that’s what I needed.”

Fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart described the late writer as a steadfast accomplice who always kept her word when given the inside scoop and whose cheerful personality stood out.

She was “always ready to jump on a plane, a train, a taxi to see a young designer, open a store, attend a festival”, driven by her constant “curiosity and faith in creation”, he said. for follow-up.

He praised his “loyalty to [her] publication and respect for the reader”, which made her “difficult to gauge because she never lost sight of [who] its readers [were]“, in particular during his 25 years at Figaro.

Samet’s contribution has been recognized with a number of honours, including the first – and only – “Oscar de la Mode” awarded to a journalist in 1987 and induction into the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France in 1994.

After retiring from Le Figaro in 2004, she wrote a book on Chaumet published by Assouline and a 2006 memoir “Chère Haute Couture” (or Chère Couture), chronicling highlights from five decades in fashion and its social scene. , from a reception with Queen Elizabeth II to his fascination with Karl Lagerfeld, his passion for Hubert de Givenchy and his support for Dior which began with the tenure of Gianfranco Ferré and continued into the John Galliano years.

In recent years, she had moved to Cannes but continued to keep up to date with fashion. Former press and public relations agent Jacques Babando, a 30-year-old friend who has a house near his in the south of France, recalled Samet as someone who loved his job and said she “was married to haute couture”.

A mass will be held on December 16 at the Parisian Cemetery in Pantin.

She is survived by a son, Patrick, and a grandson Arthur.

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